You can never have too many great shows on your watchlist, especially when it comes to shows with relatable LGBTQ+ characters. Here’s a list of 20 great shows with gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and transgender characters that you can stream right now.
Pose is a groundbreaking show about the lives of transgender people and drag queens in the 1980s in New York City. Season one is all about the New York ball scene and “houses” — the artists’ chosen families. Season two is set a few years later and focuses on the AIDS epidemic and its effects on the LGBTQ+ community. Most of us grew up knowing absolutely nothing about LGBTQ+ history, so POSE is not just a glamorous show with transgender actors and characters but also a very important history lesson.
If you think that you don’t need to see a show about a depressed horse that talks and walks on two legs, then you’re in for a surprise. Despite being set in a world where animals speak and have romantic relationships with people, BoJack Horseman is a show that tackles many important issues with preciseness and a great sense of humor. For example, Todd, Bojack’s best friend, comes out as asexual in season 4, making BoJack Horseman one of the very few popular shows with an ace character. In the show, Todd’s asexuality isn’t a big deal — it’s just the way he is, and he’s happy to have found a label that makes him feel understood.
There are many reasons why Sex Education is one of the best high school shows in the last few years. One of them is Eric Effiong — a gay black teenager from a religious family and one of the most likable gay characters in TV shows on Netflix. Eric’s best friend Otis is a son of a sex therapist. Willingly or not, Otis has learned a lot about sex from his mom, so eventually, he starts giving paid sex advice to his classmates, including some gay, pansexual, asexual, and lesbian characters. Some of his tips are good, some are not, but that’s exactly what makes Sex Education so funny and relatable.
People have been raving about Euphoria ever since it was released on HBO in 2019. The main character is Rue (Zendaya), a 17-year-old drug addict straight outta rehab who doesn’t see a reason to stay clean until she meets Jules, a transgender girl who’s just moved into Rue’s town. While TV shows with gay characters are quite common now, there aren’t many series with trans characters who are played by trans actors. Jules is portrayed by a transgender actress Hunter Schafer, so representation is something Euphoria definitely got right, along with cinematography, music, writing, and many other things. Even DiCaprio said it’s amazing.
Alright, amigos, although the vast majority of shows on this list are American, we just couldn’t leave Elite out of it. It is one of the brightest gems of Spanish Netflix and one of the most binge-worthy teen dramas ever. The first season revolves around the death of Marina, a girl killed in an elite private school in Spain. Of course, the suspicion immediately falls on her classmates, who are all complex characters with many secrets. Unsurprisingly, there is plenty of heartbreak, plot twists, and incredibly hot scenes, so what’s not to love?
Although there are many great gay anime TV shows, Junjou Romantica is a must-see for every fan of LGBTQ+ anime. The show’s main couple is Misaki, an 18-year-old student, and Usagi, a 28-year-old man who helps Misaki pass his college entrance exam. Although Misaki and Usagi’s relationship is the show’s main storyline, Junjo Romantica also follows three other gay couples. All the characters are very different from each other, so anyone can find someone they could relate to.
LGBTQ+ series aren’t always about teenagers coming out and twenty-somethings figuring out their love lives. Grace and Frankie are way beyond their twenties (or forties, for that matter), and it’s one of the best gay TV shows out there. Grace and Frankie are two women who never liked each other, but everything changed when their husbands announced they are in love and want to get married. Grace and Frankie is a fun, lighthearted show that will make everyone feel less pessimistic about aging.
Schitt’s Creek is a story of a filthy rich family that moves to a small town they own after losing all of their money. Although Schitt’s Creek is not necessarily a gay show, David Rose, a pansexual character played by Dan Levy, is the glue that holds the show together. Levy also wrote and directed most of the show’s episodes, proving that he’s a real comedy genius. Besides being very funny, Schitt’s Creek also does a great job at capturing what a modern queer relationship is like.
What if Hollywood in the 1940s was as inclusive as it is now? Hollywood is a Netflix historical fantasy that gives us an answer to that question. It tells the story of young actors and filmmakers who came to Hollywood to make their dreams come true. Although they encounter many difficulties, they also find true love and friendship along the way. Hollywood’s cast is brilliant, and their costumes are gorgeous, so Hollywood is a visual treat that will please every viewer.
While there are many gay TV shows on Netflix now, Queer Eye is like no other. It is a makeover show where five wonderful gay men tour American cities and help their “heroes” become the best versions of themselves. The hosts turn the “heroes” lives upside down — they help them deal with their traumas, overcome insecurities, find healthier relationships with food, get some bomb clothes, flattering haircuts, and even give home makeovers. It’s probably the most heartwarming show you’ll find on Netflix, so there’s nothing like an episode of Queer Eye to restore your faith in humanity.
Looking for black gay TV shows that would capture what it is like to be a black LGBTQ+ millennial in America? Lucky for you (for all of us, really), there’s Dear White People. The show is about black college students who try to navigate their twenties in a seemingly woke predominantly white Ivy League college. It features a transgender student, openly gay men, bisexual women, and even an HIV-positive character. Some storylines are hilarious, others are heartbreaking, but all of them are relatable for black LGBTQ people in the US.
We Are Who We Are is one of the best TV shows of 2020 directed by no other than Luca Guadanhino — the man behind the legendary Call Me By Your Name. We Are Who We Are is set at an American military base in Italy and follows American teenagers Cate and Fraser as they figure out their sexualities and gender identities. After the two become closer, Cate opens up to Fraser about being trans-curious. And Fraser — well, Fraser has his issues too. Just like Call Me By Your Name, the series is raw, sensual, and beautiful. Oh, and there’s Kid Cudi too.
Big Mouth is one of the funniest gay animation TV shows that depicts what it’s like to grow up as a gay kid in modern society. It handles many uncomfortable topics and makes fun of the teenage awkwardness without sugarcoating it. In a world when many on-screen teenagers are played by people who are in their twenties, Big Mouth is a refreshing and strikingly straightforward show with a dark sense of humor. It’s not glamorous at all, but who is when they’re 13?
High Fidelity is a perfect miniseries for fans of Zoe Kravitz, music geeks, and people who like shows with realistic romantic relationships. So basically, it’s a show for everyone. It follows Rob, a quirky young woman who runs a record store with two of her friends. After she breaks up with her boyfriend Mac, Rob decides to reach out to five people who broke her heart at some point in her life — four men and one woman. High Fidelity doesn’t discuss Rob’s sexuality. Instead, it focuses on her feelings and relationships, which makes it a great relatable show.
If you love period dramas but don’t care about the way they portray women, you definitely should put Gentleman Jack on your watchlist. Gentleman Jack is set in 1832 and tells the story of Anne Lister, a badass lesbian who refused to be the kind of woman society wanted her to be. And the best part about it? The show is based on the diaries of real-life Anne Lister, a British woman who lived in the 19th century.
Building relationships is hard for everyone, but it can be especially hard for queer people. Feel Good is a case in point. Mae, a lesbian comedian (played by an actual lesbian comedian Mae Martin), meets George, a woman who has only dated men before. They fall in love with each other, and all is good and well until the skeletons start emerging from the closet (quite literally). George is confused about her sexuality and doesn’t want to introduce Mae to her family. At the same time, she finds out that Mae is a recovering drug addict. Although the show deals with some serious issues, they are all accompanied by Mae’s great sense of humor, which makes Feel Good one of the best TV shows with gay couples out there.
In 1947, a woman called Mildred Ratched arrives in Northern California to work as a nurse at a leading psychiatric hospital. Or at least that’s why everyone thinks she came there. As the series unfolds, we find out that Mildred is far from a regular nurse, starting with her relationships with women and ending with the real reason why she started working at that hospital. Mildred is a lesbian villain we deserve, and she made Ratched one of the most exciting TV shows with gay characters on Netflix.
When the first season of Orange Is the New Black was released in 2013, TV shows with gay main characters were few and far between. Brilliant gay TV shows with complex transgender, lesbian, and bisexual female characters were practically non-existent. Orange Is the New Black was a revolution, and without it, most of the shows on this list may have never seen the light of day. If you don’t know what it is about, then hello, how is it going under the rock? It follows a group of women in a prison and everything that happens to them — violence, transphobia, homophobia, but also friendship, love, and adventure.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a show that makes diversity look effortless. Its protagonist Sabrina Spellman is a young witch who is surrounded by LGBTQ+ friends and family members. Even though Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a fantasy about magic, it does a great job at creating relatable black LGBTQ+ characters and touches on many topics that modern teenagers deal with on a daily basis.
What can be better than a really fun and slightly ridiculous high school drama? Only a really fun and slightly ridiculous high school drama with many queer characters, which is exactly what The Politician is. It follows Payton — a very ambitious high school student who is determined to become the president of the United States one day. For now, his main goal is to become the president of his school. The show’s creators wanted to show sexuality as a spectrum, so there are no labels in The Politician, just young people figuring it out. With its clever humor and interesting characters, The Politician is one of the new gay TV shows that anyone would enjoy.
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The Best LGBTQ+ Shows You Can Watch Right Now was originally published in Taimi Lifestyle & Community on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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